Around 65% of primary immunodeficiencies are antibody deficiencies. Functional tests are useful tools to study B-cell functions in vitro. However, no accepted guidelines for performing and evaluating functional tests have been issued yet. Here, we report our experience on the study of B-cell functions in infancy and throughout childhood. We show that T-independent stimulation with CpG measures proliferation and differentiation potential of memory B cells. Switched memory B cells respond better than IgM memory B cells. On the other hand, CD40L, a T-dependent stimulus, does not induce plasma cell differentiation, but causes proliferation of naïve and memory B cells. During childhood, the production of plasmablasts in response to CpG increases with age mirroring the development of memory B cells. The response to CD40L does not change with age. In patients with selective IgA deficiency (SIgAD), we observed that switched memory B cells are reduced due to the absence of IgA memory B cells. In agreement, IgA plasma cells are not generated in response to CpG. Unexpectedly, B cells from SIgAD patients show a reduced proliferative response to CD40L. Our results demonstrate that functional tests are an important tool to assess the functions of the humoral immune system.
- Journal Article